We tend to sing about what we miss the most. Although Kristallen, Nils Landgren & Jan Lundgren’s album, was recorded long before the corona pandemic hit us (and The Nearness of you was composed even further back, in 1938, by Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington), it has a greater resonance than before, now that we have to stay apart from most of our loved ones for the undeterminable future. Besides being one of the most beautiful ballads every written, in my opinion,
But music brings us together even if we’re not. Hopefully my picks for this month will cheer you up a little bit, also knowing that you are not alone in listening to the playlist. Thanks so much to those of you who give me feedback and spread the word about the playlist. This is a list for those of us who want diversity when listening to music. This month I introduce you to the frailest of jazz voices at the same time as rock’n’roll and the best of Top 40. I know you can take it.
This month I have had the pleasure of re-listening to Paul Simon’s first solo album. It brings back more than memories, it takes me back to where my musical taste developed, how I was taught by Paul Simon that there is more to life than songs with three chords. I remember I bought the sheet music to the album, and worked my way through some of the most complicated but oh so beautiful chords on the piano. I learned so much about constructing lyrics, what sounds fit together, about rhythm in words and rhythm in music.
Here are this month’s details:
How to listen:
Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.
But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed in 2020. Click here.
And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full
I am not saying this isn’t a good album – but it could have been a whole lot better! James Taylor with the velvety voice could have picked any songs he liked, but he made a number of peculiar choices when putting together the album. If you’re curious, listen to the whole album, if not, enjoy the picks I have made. They are vintage Taylor.
Bill Fay quit the music business in the 1970s and became a park keeper and a fish packer for decades. He was brought back from obscurity in 2012, and his former album, Who’s the Sender, I picked for you a couple of years back. This is the tenderest of the tender, just Fay’s fragile voice, a few instruments, and his lament about how fragile humanity is. As much an album for today as any released recently.
Jonathan Wilson has reintroduced the genre Soft rock to me, similar to Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd did in the 80s. Dixie Blur is a brilliant new album, a sophisticated dish of old soft rock music, but also heavily influenced by contemporary Americana.
Swedes have a special knack for pop music, we know this much. The trio Peter Bjorn and Paul proves the point. You listened to their single Music in March; here is the full album, straightforward pop, uncomplicated and enjoyable. Nothing more, nothing less.
Meditative jazz is next, and yes, the vocalist is my daughter Karoline. Silent Fires introduces the music of Alessandro Sgobbio, very fragile and spiritual, and it coats your ears.
I have introduced Charlotte dos Santos to you before as well, she is a family friend. And an emerging brilliant singer and composer. Her new EP, Harvest Time has, as Forests by Silent Fires, a spirituality at its core, with personal songs about break-up and loss, but also about ways forward. A bit more challenging than her former album, Cleo, but give it some time.
I have followed Robert Vincent since he debuted in 2013, so many of you are familiar with his coarse voice and mild Americana. On his new album he broadens the field, flirts with gospel and rock, but his sense of melody is always there, rich and hummable.
Trombonist and vocalist Nils Landgren meets pianist Jan Lundgren, and beautiful music follows. Kristallen is a remarkable album in its simplicity. As with James Taylor, one wonders why some of the songs were chosen, but most of this album makes perfect sense.
if whispering and electropop are your things, you will love this album. For the rest of you, there is enough to enjoy on this album from the London-based Spanish duo, because this is definitely a cut above other similar albums.
Lots of interesting new singles out, perhaps the most significant of all is Bob Dylan’s Murder Most Foul, his first new song since 2012. And is it a single? It lasts for quarter of an hour, but both the lyrics about the murder of John F Kennedy (and much, much more) and the music make it worthwhile to spend that amount of time on Bob’s latest.
At a Light – Teddy Thompson
Brighter Dawn – Laura Mvula
Chandelier – Damien Rice
Changes Coming – Kate York
Corduroy Jacket – Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
Domino – Nicole Atkins
Good as Hell – Lizzo
Heavy – Charlie More & Duncan Birkbeck
If the World was Ending – JP Saxe & Julia Michaels
Into the Unknown – AURORA
Light – Michael Kiwanuka
Mojave – Sarah Peacock
Murder Most Foul – Bob Dylan
Not in Mephis – Amy LaVere
Peaceful Afternoon/Piece a Vivre – Rufus Wainwright
Plus Je T’embrasse – Thomas Detronc
Rock Pools – Saint Saviour & Willie Mason
Savannah – Andrew Gold
She – Yael Naim
She Persisted – Gina Chavez
Stupid Love – Lady Gaga
Superfan – Dan Wilson
Zelda – Isah
I couldn’t add the whole album, it would throw the whole monthly list off-balance. But if you haven’t heard the full album before, do it now. Pop music – any kind of music for that matter – doesn’t come much better than this.